Malpractice insurance hitting physicians hard

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 10:26 a.m.

There has been much in the news recently about the rising cost of physicians' malpractice insurance and the impact is is having. Recently, this impact hit us directly.

My husband's pain management physician sent us a letter stating that due to the prohibitive cost of malpractice insurance, he has had to close his practice. He gave us the name of the doctor who will be assuming care for my husband's pain pump.

Another physician recently told us that his own malpractice insurance had just been increased by 117 percent for this year. He said that many physicians simply cannot afford the additional premiums, and are having to stop practicing medicine.

Citizens need to understand that this is rapidly becoming a crisis in Florida. My husband and I have long objected to the incredibly huge awards that go to people for malpractice cases.

Although we feel compassion for those who have suffered irreversible damages from improper surgical procedures or medications, and conceded that some compensation is warranted for bona fide actual damage that prevents a person from continuing his or her life the way they should have been able to, the awards for punitive damages have become outrageous beyond all reason.

Florida is one of several states where physicians are being forced to close their practices because they cannot afford to pay malpractice insurance that in some cases approaches $100,000 annually.

Because a number of greedy private citizens and their equally greedy lawyers have gotten rich from suing doctors, we are all suffering the consequences by having to go farther distances to find health care and wait longer to receive it.

I urge every responsible citizen to contact your state legislators and encourage them to initiate legislation to put a cap on malpractice awards.

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